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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Books and References (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: "Roman Coin Forgery" by Alan Van Arsdale 2005 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: "Roman Coin Forgery" by Alan Van Arsdale 2005  (Read 6312 times)
Marius
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« on: October 05, 2005, 12:29:09 am »

Hi Friends,
I just bought this book from Alan Van Arsdale (eBay $50).  It's a nice big hardcover book with 183 pages.  The bibliography is essentially the four recent Bulgarian books (pamphlets) on forgeries and IAPN articles, as well as the CFDL discussion list and Alan's own ideas.

Page 7-14 Glossary of terms
Page 17-80 A discussion of forging methods and their detection (IMO the best part of the book)
page 81-92 a list of coins listed as fakes in IBSCC publications, but sadly no photos of these
Page 93-183 plates of coins that the author detremined to be fake - but no explanation as to why.  Many are well-recognized fakes, but many just look like genuine coins to me, so for those I would have really like to know why the author condemned them - the photos are not helpful to me without the analysis to support why they are included.

I have gone in to detail about the reliability of this book in the forgery section of FORVM's discussion board.  I hope you will look at that too, because for me, there is some cause for concern.  Here's a link:

http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=22502.0

Best regards,
Richard
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Richard Marius Beale
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2005, 02:57:00 am »

Hi Richard,

Alan Van Arsdale has been the subject of much discussion in the past on this forum. All I can say is that I think there are much better ways of spending $50.00 than buying his book.

Alex.
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2005, 11:14:04 am »

I have to agree with much of the concern about Alan and his book.  The way he decided that all coin images on the internet are without copyrights really concerns me.  In addition, there is nothing in the book stating why any of the coins are fakes.  Supposedly many of these are fakes that others reported to him.  He's never even seen many of the coins to be able to fairly judge them.  Most of the material in this book can be found in other places.   

I'd highly recommend you pick up Wayne Sayles book on forgeries, "CLASSICAL DECEPTIONS".  It's much cheaper, has better information in it, and the author is a real ancient coin expert.  Just my personal opinion.

Thank you.
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Marius
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2005, 03:54:24 pm »

Thanks for the input.   I have the book by Wayne Sales - I like it, but it doesn't go into much depth - more like an introduction to the subject.  The best, by far, discussion on forgeries that I have seen are the IAPN articles, but since I am not a member they are hard to get (I have about a dozen).  They go into real detail about how individual coins forgeries were discovered and analyze each coin in depth.

Vana Arsdale's book does go into technical discussion of electroplating, various methods of creating dies, etc., and for that, the book has value - I think his research is good there but I do agree with Alex - the book is not a great investment of $50.

Best regards,
Richard
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Richard Marius Beale
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2005, 04:25:07 pm »

Does Alan discuss his theory on Chemical Die sinking?  I have found most of what he says on his coin forgery group inconsistent and have serious doubts the method he proposes for chemical die sinking will work.  I have a lot of experience with metal work (was a welder and machinists for 10 years) and studied chemistry at UC Berkeley (but switched mayors to Biology later).

Howard
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2005, 09:06:17 pm »

Hi Howard,
I too am interested in these techniques.  I work at a large physics research lab, and I have talked to material scientist and machinists and they don't know about chemical etching of dies.  Van Arsdale's book 'explains' the technique but there are no pictures or diagrams, and no references, and it is very difficult to visualize from his writing.    I read technical manuals as part of my daily work, but I can only guess what chemical etching of dies is, even after reading the chapter.
Here is what I think is meant (using only my words - it is nowhere nearly as straightforward in the book). 

1. a coin and a blank die hub are mechanically aligned
2. the coin is coated with an acid that will etch the hub material but not the coin.
3. the coin and hub are brought together so that the high point of the acid coated coin touches and etches the hub
4. the coin and hub are seperated and the process starts again
5. this continues until the image of the coin is etched into the hub, which can then be used as a die

Please understand that this is just my guess as to what is described in the book.  If someone understands the technology, please enlighten us, and please tell us where we can read about the process.

All good fun.  I am starting to get my money's worth from the book Smiley
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Richard Marius Beale
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2005, 09:24:06 pm »

Hi Richard,

What you describe is about the same impression that I have gotten from Alan's postings.  But Alan feels that this will create a "perfect" die.  I don't see how it would be any better than hubbing.  At the same time, I don't know of an acid that will not attach at least some of the coins elements (remember the alloy is not pure) unless they are working with gold coins.  If you cover the coin with a resin, you blur the details.

It almost sounds like the process of electrotypes.  Why not use that process? 

Personnally until I hear a lot more details, I really don't think chemical die sinking will work any better than the other methods. 

Finally Alan states that this method can be used to touch up dies (i.e. improve them) in his posts.

Could also tell what other methods he discusses?  I wonder if he considered rapid prototyping using holographs and plastics?  I think this is the way to go with making fakes.  Some plastics are hard enough to be used as dies.

Howard
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« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2005, 09:56:29 pm »

Hi Howard,
Van Arsdale discusses chemical dies, chemical tooling, pressed forgeries (he goes into a lot of detail here, discussing the BM forgeries, the Black Sea Hoard and other types), struck forgeries and the methodsto age/wear them, spark erosion of dies (EDM), also he describes a fiber fusion method (a coin is placed in a tube containing tightly packed fibers, the fibers are pushed up to form the reverse image of the coin, and then the fibers are fused).  There are more methods too - these are the ones I see when flipping through the pages.  I don't want to go into too much detail because the author did go through the touble of writing the book.
Many of the descriptions are quite good, and Van Arsdale talks in detail about the signs left behind by the various forging/tooling methods.  This seems to be his area of expertise and that portion of the book has real value, and explations that I find useful, and unavailable in other sources.

Where I work they have rapid prototyping devices.  I will check into that.  I have seen them make some amazing parts with them.  I will ask them about making coin copies or dies (they can probably tell me about it but not make anything - too bad  Undecided ).
Best regards,
Richard
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Richard Marius Beale
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2005, 10:53:53 pm »

Thanks for good reporting.  You saved me $50!
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2005, 11:16:35 pm »

Thanks for the information.  Yes, I would like to see the prototyping machine in action. 

Howard
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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2005, 01:03:05 am »

The discussion turned into some interesting dispute related with  technological aspects of copying.
I was thinking about this, how one can get indistinguishable copy. The problem is that many methods
discusse d above have limitations because  the physical properties involved posess smoothing properties.
The latter are difficult to circumvent, to reduce the smoothing. However, a technologies are evolving.
E.g., casting is constrained (between other factors) by the surface tension. Its impact can be diminished
using centrifuges and so on. Another physical constraint is a wave lenth of the light but it also can be overrun
using beams of elementary particles.  Now I am far from this stuff but I remember that already at early 90 were technology
to make chips using electronic beams. 
Such a technology should be extremely expensive and it is hard to imagine that it will have a practical use
to make fakes even a very expensive fakes.  I would say that chemical sinking also is too expensive  to produce
exclusive copies of the most  popular 3rd century coins. I  am always suspicious that good copies  of cheap coins are produced somehow, but using other technology, maybe, a  powder metallurgy.
Richard, since you are in the Lab, you can know more about  this. You even  mentioned somewhere that your colleagues,
using advance methods, could proved  that some large bronzes  you cannot condemn otherwise, are fakes.
I was very impressed by that statement showing that the problem of "smart" forgeries does exist. 
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« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2005, 09:58:53 am »

The best book that I have seen on the techniques used to make forgeries is , "Numismatic Forgery", by Charles M. Larson.  The author describes every technique in detail and has tried them all himself.  It is worth a look at.
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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2005, 02:14:29 pm »

I will have to look out for the book "nimismatic forgery" it sounds very good - especially since the author has real practical experience on both the production and detection methods.

As far as 'perfect forgeries' I saw some posted on the web once - an article written about tetradrachms of Alexander Balas that had fooled everyone until some clever person realised that there were die combinations that couldn't possible exist due to the chronology and distance between mints.

Anything that I have talked about concerning the lab I work at has been theoretical.  I am convinced that perfect forgeries can be made - our (modern world) state of technology is advanced enough to make accurate shapes at the edge of what can be seen by a light microscope, but I do agree with Numerianus that it is currently not cost effective.  The BM forgers tried to make it cost effective (I think they used technology to create the dies and then hand engraving to add missing details -but I don't know for sure) by forging great rarities - coins that only a few examples existed, or high grade gold rarities in top grade.  Often there weren't enough of the rare coins to be able to see all of the coin's design, so that the forger had to be creative when filling in the details.  Experts were able to compare the 'new' coins with the few existing examples and expose the forgeries.  I am sure if the BM forgers were to start using their technique to make common coins, and then wear them down and patinate them they could get away with it because the coins would get nowhere near the same scrutiny.  Of course they would have to limit how many they sold or suspicions would arise, and they would have to make multiple dies so as not to overuse a single set.  And since these would be common, mid-grade coins, they could not make much money - and so not worth their effort to begin with.  So I think in our current state, we are protected a great deal by economics more than by existance of technology.  I hope that technolgy for detection of forgeries advanves at least as fast as technology for creating forgeries.

Best regards,
Richard
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2005, 03:35:49 pm »

If a perfect forgery is made, you would not be able to tell it from an authentic coin.  So the result would be the same as if a new hoard was found, a lowering of the coin prices.

I do have a problem with using technology to make a perfect forgery.  The technology seems to leave some sign.  May using powder splintering might work, I really don't know.  Also computer controlled mills and lathes might be able to do it, but most likely they would leave modern machine tool marks on the coin, hard to detect but there.

The only way that I can see a perfect fake being made is the old fashion way.  Hand carved dies by someone that has a thorough  understanding of ancient art, the series of coins being copied, and ancient celating methods.  This means more than copying a picture or coin in hand and doing hand striking.

Howard
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2005, 05:30:34 pm »

The best book that I have seen on the techniques used to make forgeries is , "Numismatic Forgery", by Charles M. Larson. The author describes every technique in detail and has tried them all himself. It is worth a look at.

FORVM carries this book in our catalog.  It is essentially a how to make coin forgeries manual.  While that sounds like something that FORVM shouldn't sell, it actually helps the reader understand just how difficult it would be to make a passing forgery.  It is far too much work for any lazy thief to even consider. 
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« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2005, 05:53:14 pm »

Thank you for letting me know.  I just placed an order.  This forum is a great site, and much appreciated.  I will always check here first before ordering a book.
Richard
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« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2005, 07:40:54 pm »

I also would highly recommend "Numismatic Forgery", by Charles M. Larson.   It's a super book.

Thank you.
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